How dirty are you?

by admin on November 1, 2011

There are many famous germaphobes in history, people who are literally terrified at the thought of coming into contact with germs.

Nice shoes Howard

Take Howard Hughes for example. The billionaire aviator, movie producer and business tycoon was deathly afraid of germs. He spent the last few years of his life in darkened hotel rooms that he believed he had turned into germ-free zones. Even then he had tissue paper spread over the floor, and wore tissue boxes on his feet when he walked around so he wouldn’t come into contact with the carpet.

Businessman, TV “star” and erstwhile Presidential candidate Donald Trump is almost as wacky. He refuses to touch the ‘ground floor’ button in an elevator because he is convinced it’s the dirtiest button in the building, and tries to never shake hands with anyone, particularly teachers.

But while those two represent the extremes of germaphobia there are many other folks who just like to protect themselves, as much as they can, from the routine, everyday germs. And who can blame them.  The problem is how do you know what are the places most likely to contain the most germs?

Well, a new study has a list of the skankiest places around, the locations and objects that are absolutely teeming with things you’d rather not think about let alone touch.

Researchers at the University of Arizona enrolled hygienists to swab the surfaces of 350 of what they considered the most frequently touched surfaces in city’s like Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia. They then measured the level of contamination of those surfaces to see which ones had the highest levels of illness-causing bacteria.

Here’s where they found the highest concentrations:

  • 71% of gas pump handles
  • 68% of mailbox handles
  • 43% of escalator rails
  • 41% of ATM buttons
  • 40% of parking meters
  • 35% of crosswalk buttons
  • 35% of vending machine buttons

Nasty eh! And they’re all everyday objects that are hard to avoid, unless you want to live in a vacuum or a darkened hotel room wearing boxes on your feet. So, what’s the solution?

Soap. Water. Hand sanitizer. Never touch your hand to your face until you’ve washed it. Never touch your hand to someone else’s face until they’ve washed it. Never touch anyone. Never let anyone touch you. Or stand near you. Or breathe near you.

Or you could just face up to the fact that you already have billions of bacteria on every part of your body and in every part of your body so you are already pretty much infected and the things you’ll come across on those surfaces are probably no worse than what you already have.

You could try to live inside a bubble, or avoid contact with other members of your species. But then you’d end up looking like Donald Trump. And you really don’t want that to happen now do you!

Hair-raising thought

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